Broad City Recap: Training Shania Twain

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Bob Balaban as Arthur, Susie Essman as Bobbi, Ilana Glazer as Ilana. Photo: Comedy Central
Broad City
Show
Broad City
Episode Title
Burning Bridges
Season
3
Episode
8
Editor’s Rating
5/5

Neither Abbi nor Ilana are apathetic, but nothing really seems to faze them. Sure, things aren't perfect in their lives, but they haven't faced anything all that bad. They tend to coast along, blithe and stoned, with the confidence that they'll figure out how to handle whatever inconvenience comes next.

This is certainly by design. As a show, Broad City seems to care first and foremost about being the goofiest possible parable about the virtues of stoner friendship. On rare occasions, however, the show peels back the layers of GIF-able "Yas Qween"ery to reveal something more melancholy. Abbi and Ilana are getting older with each season. Wandering through bad jobs and ill-advised hookups in a gauzy fog of pot smoke may have romantic appeal at age 22, but when you reach your mid-to-late twenties, it can start to feel a little hollow. Broad City is wholly uninterested in navel-gazing about twentysomething aimlessness — thank goodness, because one Girls is enough — but in those rare moments when Abbi and Ilana's insecurities are laid bare, Broad City is at its absolute best.

At the start of "Bridges Burned," Abbi and Trey have fallen into a friends-with-benefits situation. Abbi is just fine with the status quo — she even tells Trey to not talk while they're having sex — but he wants something more, so he asks her out on a proper date. This puts Abbi in a tough spot: If she actually dates Trey, she'd have to tell Ilana, and she hasn't even told her about their kiss yet. After he insists, she gives in and agrees to dinner later that night.

Meanwhile, it's Ilana's parents' anniversary … which means that Susie Essman and Bob Balaban are back! Ilana and Eliot are planning to take them out to celebrate, and Ilana invites Abbi to come along. Rather than tell Ilana that she's got a date with Trey, she claims that she's "training Shania Twain." Ilana is a little incredulous — Shania Twain is Abbi's go-to excuse, after all — but she mostly seems to buy it.

As they're talking in Madison Square Park, Lincoln shows up and asks to speak to Ilana alone. (He's still carrying Blake Griffin's shoe as a murse, too.) He tells her that things have been getting serious with the girl he's been seeing, and he wants to date her exclusively. It's over between them; he doesn't even think they should be friends. The sudden breakup clearly hurts Ilana, but instead of expressing that pain, she channels it into something decidedly less healthy: catcalling passersby as her parents sit next to her.

After consulting with Bevers to find the perfect outfit — it turns out he's a fashion prodigy and his family owns a department store called Lord & Bevers — Abbi gets to the restaurant for her date with Trey. Because Broad City is a sitcom (and because "Burning Bridges" sets up its plot as an homage to Mrs. Doubtfire), the next development is pretty obvious: The Wexlers are celebrating their anniversary at the same restaurant.

When Bobbi spots Abbi on her way to the bathroom, she assumes she's there to surprise them. From there, things begin to snowball out of control. Abbi sneaks back and forth between the two tables, making paltry excuses each time she leaves. ("I forgot … I need to, uh, I need to replace my bandage.") Abbi can't tell Ilana that she's there on a date with Trey, and she doesn't want to tell Trey that she's embarrassed of him, either. As she downs lychee cocktails at one table and glasses of wine at the other, her drunken attempts to hide the truth grow increasingly frenzied. (It's made all the more complicated by a lei given to her by the Wexlers, and a corsage that Trey adorably bought for her as a gift.) All the while, it also becomes clear that Trey has real feelings for Abbi. He toasts to their "new beginnings," while she toasts to things staying "the way they are … now."

Back at the Wexlers' table, Ilana is still flirting to distract herself from the breakup. She ends up making eyes (among, uh, other racy gestures) with a man across the room. They go downstairs to hook up in the bathroom, but it turns out he's married and his wife just had a baby. Ilana doesn't want to help someone cheat, so she returns back to the table, even more upset than before.

After accidentally noting that it's her one-month anniversary with Trey — well, the one-month anniversary of their first kiss — Abbi pretends to be overcome with emotion. As she races back to the Wexlers, Bobbi starts to choke on a lychee. Desperate for help, Abbi calls over Trey so he'll perform the Heimlich maneuver. (That Soulstice safety training comes in handy, huh?) Ilana, seemingly horrified that Abbi kept such a big secret from her, runs outside and starts crying. Abbi tries to comfort her by saying that Trey doesn't mean anything — which a heartbroken Trey hears immediately after he rushes out behind them. After he leaves, Ilana confesses that she's not crying because of Abbi; she's crying because of Lincoln.

I'm not sure if we've ever seen such a raw, emotional moment from Ilana. Her bravado has been a constant through the series, and it's nowhere to be found while she's crying on the sidewalk. (Okay, there's one exception: When she asks Abbi to give her the "dick deets" about Trey.) Though Ilana's attitude hadn't previously seemed to mask any issues, it isn't a surprise that she actually has insecurities. Of course she does. Everyone has insecurities. And it seems her feelings for Lincoln weren't as casual as she would have liked everyone to think, including herself.

"Burning Bridges" ends with Abbi and Ilana smoking in the bath, as they share some of their deepest secrets together. Abbi admits that she actually did have feelings for Trey, and Ilana doesn't judge her. (Neither does Abbi when Ilana reveals her babysitting mishap at Oliver's house.) Their capacity for honesty, both with their own emotions and with each other, seems to be growing. Just like they are.

Other Thoughts:

  • The waitress at the restaurant is played by Mara Wilson, who also played Nattie in Mrs. Doubtfire. Full disclosure: Mara is one of my best friends and I am bursting with pride right now.
  • Trey's full name is Trey Parker.
  • Abbi and Ilana trying to find a table at Madison Square Park is too real. Abbi taking a chair from a guy who needs it for his fake leg is much less real, but so very funny.
  • "Incest would destroy our already weak bloodlines." Can Susie Essman please appear on every episode?